Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs)

Clinical Services: Cardiothoracic Surgery (Heart Surgery)
Upper East Side
525 East 68th Street, M-404
New York, NY 10065
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Heart failure causes the heart to become too weak to pump blood to other parts of the body effectively. This serious condition may be treated with medication, but advanced heart failure may require a heart transplant or other intervention.

Weill Cornell Medicine offers exceptional care to help our patients live longer and enjoy a better quality of life.

Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs)

Mechanical cardiac assist devices can help patients with end-stage heart failure. The most common device is the ventricular assist device (VAD). VADs are used as a:

• Temporary support while the heart muscle recovers

• Temporary support while awaiting a heart transplant (sometimes referred to as “bridge to heart transplant”)

• Permanent support system for patient not eligible for a transplant.

How do VADs work?

The VAD consists of:

• A pump implanted in or near the upper part of the abdominal wall that is connected to the heart at two points. A tube carries blood from the ventricle to the pump. The blood is pumped through a second tube to the aorta or pulmonary artery, and distributed to the lungs or throughout the body.

• An electronic control system connected to the pump.

• A power supply (rechargeable batteries) connected to small batteries. Patients wear the controller on a belt and the batteries on a vest-like shoulder holster.

The left ventricle is the chamber responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the aorta for transport to the rest of the body. Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) take on the workload of the left ventricle, helping the heart to pump oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. As a result, all tissues and organs receive the blood supply needed.

The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs, where it can receive oxygen. Right ventricle assist devices (RVADs) are commonly used in conjunction with LVADs — which is referred to as a biventricular assist device (BiVAD).

With a VAD, patients feel better, and are able to live more active, normal lives.

Why choose Weill Cornell Medicine for VAD implementation and management?

Our surgeons specialize in implementing a wide variety of VADs, selected and tailored for each patient and specific situation.

A multidisciplinary team — comprised of surgeons, cardiologists, nurses, physical therapists, psychiatrists, nutritionists, and social workers — assures comprehensive care in the hospital and afterward.

For patients awaiting a heart transplant, Weill Cornell Medicine surgeons collaborate with heart surgeons at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center — a renowned center for heart transplantation — to offer one of the largest VAD programs in the nation.